Great news: Samsung and STMicroelectronics have revealed that Samsung is the new 28nm FD-SOI foundry (see the press release here.) Specifically, the two companies announced, “…a comprehensive agreement on 28nm Fully Depleted Silicon-on-Insulator (FD-SOI) technology for multi-source manufacturing collaboration.”
The agreement covers ST’s 28nm FD-SOI design platform: the design enablement ecosystem and the process technology. It’s the best of both worlds, they say, giving customers the advanced manufacturing solutions from Samsung’s state-of-the-art 300mm facilities and assuring the industry of high-volume production for ST’s FD-SOI technology.
Here’s some of what they’ve shared so far:
- Samsung is licensing the whole shooting match for the 28nm FD-SOI design platform – the Process Design Kit (PDK), the foundation libraries, the advanced IP and the design flow.
- Samsung and ST will support a common 28nm FD-SOI library and IP.
- The PDK is available now so both companies’ foundry customers can dive right in today.
What we’re seeing here is clearly a tight coupling for both design and manufacturing. There will be full design compatibility between ST and Samsung, and the manufacturing processes between the two companies’ fabs will be fully compatible, too. The Samsung 28nm FD-SOI process will be qualified in early 2015 for volume production.
If you were wondering if 28nm is really going to be a big node, the quote from Dr. Seh-Woong Jeong, executive vice president of System LSI Business, Samsung Electronics makes it crystal clear. He says:
“We are pleased to announce this 28nm FD-SOI collaboration with ST. This is an ideal solution for customers looking for extra performance and power efficiency at the 28nm node without having to migrate to 20nm. 28nm process technology is a highly productive process technology and expected to have a long life span based on well-established manufacturing capabilities. By adding FD-SOI to our technology portfolio, Samsung provides a full-spectrum of 28nm process offerings for our customers’ success.”
Jean-Marc Chery, Chief Operating Officer, STMicroelectronics puts momentum and IP center stage, saying:
“Building upon the existing solid relationship between ST and Samsung within the framework of the International Semiconductor Development Alliance, this agreement further strengthens our cooperation by extending it to 28nm FD-SOI, while expanding the ecosystem and augmenting fab capacity for ST and the entire electronics industry. Moreover, the agreement confirms and strengthens further the business momentum that we have experienced on this technology during the past quarters through many customers and project engagements in our Embedded Processing Solutions segment. We foresee further expansion of the 28nm FD-SOI ecosystem, to include the leading EDA and IP suppliers, which will enrich the IP catalog available for 28nm FD-SOI.”
For the design community, here’s some additional info in this slide on IP:
It’s a win-win-win. For ST and their customers, it’s a high-volume, multi-source option for their products. It’s an out-of-the-park win for the FD-SOI ecosystem – the big vote of confidence everyone was waiting for, which should accelerate adoption in a big way. And for Samsung, well, they’re ready to roll in target markets (including smartphones, consumer multimedia, networking, IoT and automotive) with the best 28nm option for price, power and performance. Choice and security: who could ask for anything more?
ST and Samsung also shared the following slide for this announcement, wherein we see they’ll be emphasizing to their foundry customers that porting SOCs from bulk to 28nm FD-SOI has already proven extremely beneficial:
Finally, the announcement includes a big tip of the hat to the Grenoble, France technology cluster, including ST, Leti, Soitec and others, that have been working for over a decade to make FD-SOI the best, evolutionary way to extend Moore’s law. BTW, if you haven’t yet explored FD-SOI technology, there’s an excellent ST video on YouTube called Intro to FD-SOI – see it here.
There are a lot of companies in the FD-SOI ecosystem who are going to be very excited about this news – in the days to come, no doubt we’ll be hearing more from them, too. So stay tuned: this is the start of something beautiful.